Gewurztraminer is classified as an aromatic white grape, albeit slightly pink in colour. It is one of the easiest grapes to spot as it has an intense lychee like nose and flavours with hints of rose petals and Turkish delight. It is a grape that has a wide range of styles from dry, sweet, to intensely sweet as a dessert wine. The grape has a very high natural sugar content, and the skill is in keeping the acidity clean and crisp, making a perfect balance.
Gewurztraminer evolved from a combination of the Sauvignon and Traminer grapes in the Alsace region. Here, today, it has become Alsace’s second grape, and has built a worldwide reputation on its amazing flavours and outstanding qualities. The main crop follows the main route in Alsace, that of producing bone dry, brilliantly balanced wines that are a real pleasure to enjoy. Gewurztraminer from Alsace will never disappoint, such is its character and style. It is however well worth trying their sweeter styles, in particular the Vendange Tardive wines that are even more intense in flavour and richness with a finish that seems to last and last. This happens when the Gewurztraminer takes on the noble rot, or botrytis, a type of fungus that shrivels and decays wine grapes and raises the sugars dramatically. Then you are off on another delicious experience!
Clearly the Alsace is the star, but the grape is also found around Europe in Italy, in the Trentino Alto Adige district, Austria, Spain, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia, all of who produce good examples of this exotic wine.
It has also reached the New World, with perhaps New Zealand’s South Island producing the best examples, as this grape is very much a cooler climate variety. In Australia, the Clare Valley, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, and the Yarra Valley produce great examples, as do Argentina in the Mendoza, and the higher vineyards in the foothills of the Andes. In the USA, California, Washington and Oregon are well worth looking at, and from Canada, Vancouver, Ontario, Quebec, and British Colombia. The cooler areas undoubtedly produce the best results.
In warmer climates, faster ripening tends to make the wine more blowsy, as acidity drops away faster. The extreme fragrance, however, remains often linked here with ginger and cinnamon. This is a grape that has such a style, taste and finish that it can cope brilliantly with spicy Asian foods and Middle Eastern cuisines. It goes well with a huge variety, from duck, chicken, pork or bacon to shrimps and crab. At the end of a meal try it with soft cheeses and dried fruits. The dessert Gewurztraminers clearly match sweets, but again cheeses – rich and blue cheeses. It is a great wine, a must to try, as it has so much character and takes you on a different but enjoyable wine journey.